Bike Check: Jolanda Neff's Olympics-Winning Trek Supercaliber

Aug 27, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  


Anyone's story of winning the Olympics is bound to be a good one. After all, it is arguably the most prestigious achievement in all of mountain biking. That said, Jolanda Neff's victory in Tokyo last month was especially sweet, given that she's suffered from a string of setbacks that have kept her off the World Cup podium for some time now.

In late 2019, Neff crashed brutally while training and injured her spleen, collapsed a lung, and broke a rib. It was a long road to recovery. When normal World Cup racing resumed in 2021, it seemed as if Neff was climbing back up the results to once again contend for the win, but she crashed and broke her hand in Leogang, just six weeks out from the Olympics.

So, then, when she took the lead early in the Olympic XCO race and continued to lead until she had claimed gold as her own, it had been a long time coming. Let's take a look at the bike that carried her there.

Jolanda Neff // Trek Factory Racing
Height: 169cm
Weight: 53kg
Instagram: @jolandaneff

When photographed, the bike still had Tokyo mud on it.

The "First Light" color scheme: "It starts with red hot passion, moves to bright yellow joy, fades into subtle mysterious white, and finishes off with a sky full of flowing energy," Neff posted on Instagram.
Details
Frame: Trek Supercaliber, size 17.5"
Shock: Trek's Fox-made IsoStrut, 60mm, 105psi, 9 clicks rebound
Fork: RockShox SID Ultimate, 100mm, 66psi, 8-10 clicks rebound
Wheels: 29" Kovee XXX
Tires: Bontrager XR2 2.2", 16psi F, 18psi R w/ inserts
Drivetrain: SRAM Eagle AXS XX1
Brakes: SRAM Level Ultimate, 140/160mm rotors
Cockpit: Trek RSL integrated cockpit, 80mm stem, -13 degree drop, 690mm bars
Weight: 10.2kg
More info: trekbikes.com

Dropper post, always. While many of her fellow cross country racers still eschew dropper posts, Neff started riding with one years ago and won't go back.

Many speculated about the wavy tape on Neff's downtube at the Olympics. The idea is to make it more difficult for mud to stick to the frame, but in the event that mud does collect on the tape, pulling the tape off the bike would be an easy way to cut the bike's weight back down, even mid-race.

Neff typically runs Bontrager's XR1 or XR3 tires in dry conditions, but opted for the more robust XR2 set because of Tokyo's mud.

Neff's Level Ultimate brakes have titanium bolts to help shave a bit of extra weight. The front and rear suspension locks out with RockShox's TwistLoc system, and Trek designed the Supercaliber to ride more like a hardtail than a locked out full suspension bike when the IsoStrut is locked.

Neff has said in the past that she is quite particular about her setup and likes to keep things extremely consistent when she moves from bike to bike. Although she just recently started running Bontrager's new RSL integrated cockpit, the measurements are the same as what she's run for a while.

The Supercaliber's IsoStrut serves as a structural part of the frame and was designed in collaboration with Fox. Unlike most rear shocks, it isn't driven by a linkage. The seatstays are pivotless and flex to move with the suspension.

Neff runs a 32t chainring and 10-52t cassette with her Eagle XX1 AXS setup, though she changes the chainring size depending on the course, especially between short, flat XCC and long, steep XCO races.

An MRP chainguide and Bontrager titanium pedals finish it off.

Some personal touches, of course. It's only fitting for the rider who is now the Olympic champion.

Now the Olympic champion, Neff may be able to brush off her slump of the past year and climb back up onto the podium at World Champs this weekend.



75 Comments

  • 26 2
 Rotor reverse Mullet. Like it.
  • 5 0
 Looks like a typo as the pictures show 160 F
  • 7 0
 Nah, Yolanda likes to kick arse in the longest skid competition. 160 on the rear.
  • 1 0
 Anne Caroline rolled the reverse brake mullet
  • 1 1
 I ran it for a while, i kinda liked it.
  • 3 4
 I've been running the rotor reverse mullet for a long time, and I love it. 220mm rear, 200mm front. I get that we're all supposed to be using our brakes more evenly, and I completely agree that when descending the front wheel will offer a tremendous amount of braking power. That said, we largely use the rear brake to control speed throughout a longer descent - and no one wants to risk an OTB crash by locking up the front wheel.
  • 22 0
 Beautiful bike for a fantastic athlete.
  • 7 25
flag jclnv (Aug 27, 2021 at 9:43) (Below Threshold)
 I disagree. They’re not supposed to be very light, there isn’t enough travel, and the HA is too steep. Imagine her riding that Spark. It would be hilarious to watch her go even faster than everyone else on the downs.
  • 11 1
 @jclnv: 3 pounds heavier with a longer reach would not help JoJo, because frankly she doesn't need help descending.
  • 6 14
flag jclnv (Aug 27, 2021 at 10:22) (Below Threshold)
 @hi-dr-nick: Two OTB’s in the last few months that I bet wouldn’t have happened on a Spark. And 3 pounds?LOL!
  • 1 2
 @jclnv: you think a pro race Spark weighs less than 19.4 lbs? lol
  • 2 1
 @seraph: No, does this bike?
  • 9 0
 @jclnv: You're getting downvoted to oblivion, but you're not wrong. The Spark RC frame is almost 100 g lighter than the SuperCaliber (1849 g vs 1933 g), and has 60 mm more travel than the Trek. And yeah, the SuperCaliber's 69° headtube was pretty close to outdated when it launched (the 2016 Spark was already slacker at 68.5°), and most new XC bikes are 67.5°-68.5°.

The SuperCaliber was a cool idea—trying to bridge the gap between an XC FS bike and hardtail—but in the end, they didn't achieve a weight advantage over the top FS competitors, so that kinda negates its purpose.

Compared to most XC bikes from a few years ago, I'm sure the SuperCaliber still rides great—and it obviously isn't holding Jolanda back—but it's hard to argue that it's a better bike than a Spark or Epic.
  • 2 0
 @seraph: No way this SuperCaliber weighs under 20 lb. The AXS dropper alone is over 600 g. I'd be surprised if it's under 22.
  • 4 1
 @nattyd: No worries Natty. It’s Pinkbike, full of clueless goons.
  • 4 0
 @jclnv: Loving all the confident commentators who have clearly never watched an XCO race. TBH, the captions seem like they were written by someone who only has a passing familiarity.

Hence stuff like "While many of her fellow cross country racers still eschew dropper posts"...

Probably 95+% of women run dropper posts in XCO at this point. It's basically Loana and a few others without one.
  • 1 0
 @jclnv: you claimed that the Spark would be 3 or more lbs lighter than this bike, which weighs 10.2 kg (22.44 lbs). 22.44 - 3 = 19.44 lbs. I think there's no way in hell that the Spark is that light.

You should try actually reading the comments before you respond.
  • 1 0
 @nattyd: It says right in the description that it weighs 22.44 lbs. jclnv claimed that a Spark RC could be 3 or more lbs lighter than the Supercaliber.
  • 2 0
 @seraph: Pot/kettle. Quote where I said a Spark is 3lbs lighter?
  • 1 0
 @seraph: "You should try actually reading the comments before you respond."


Pretty ironic accusation since a completely different person made the 3 lbs comment, and was saying the Spark was 3 lbs heavier than the Trek, not the other way around.
  • 2 0
 @nattyd: ah, I did misread. My bad. Truly ironic. lol
  • 14 0
 Whatever bike she was on, you could tell she had “it” that day. You know those rides where you just feel great — strong and solid, and nothing can stop you? That was Jolanda Neff that day. You could just see it in how she was riding. It was an absolute clinic. As close to a perfect race as you will see.
  • 16 0
 I just PRed my longest climb on strava because I looked at these pictures.
  • 5 0
 I'm guessing the spec is a typeo regarding the rotors, 140 front and 160 rear?
But hey, maybe that's what wins gold medals at the Olympics?
  • 7 0
 I'm fairly sure it is since Rock Show say the smallest rotor on a SID SL is 160mm and on a SID is 180mm
  • 1 0
 Could imagine, that no smaller rotors than 160mm would fit. (flatmount for 160mm?)
  • 4 2
 Last year I was reading a few internet articles (opinions) on how it is actually a better setup to run them reverse from conventional thinking. The idea of larger on the front comes from moto and the weight distribution isn't the same as a MTB... I haven't tried it yet but it was interesting. I'm still running the same front and back.
  • 26 1
 @keeferm: physics beat the internet, stick with bigger in the front
  • 2 2
 @keeferm: That's for gravity riding where heat management is a big priority. That's generally not an issue in XC racing where you're not going to be on the rear brake for long periods. For general trail riding I'd recommend same sizes rotors but if you're racing XC or have really flat terrain a bigger front rotor makes sense. If you're racing DH then either equal size rotors or larger in the rear.
  • 2 2
 @pink505: you're misinterpreting the physics and internet here. There are practically no DH racers running larger front rotors and those articles are referring to DH/gravity riding.
  • 2 0
 I was going to chime in and say she’s pretty small, so she could probably get away with 140s, if the fork allowed it. But it looks like the fixed the typos. 160 front, 140 rear.
  • 3 0
 Run the largest rotor that will fit on your setup!
  • 1 0
 @jeremy3220 You might be right about me not getting the internet...On the physics side If I raced DH at all or had any real brake system design experience I would argue with you. I'll go poke some anti-vaccers, flat earthers and comment on dentists bike choices instead.
  • 1 0
 @pink505: Check out some of Matt Miller's (PhD) work. He's published a few articles using brake data acquisition, has a website and YouTube channel with more info.

www.mtbphd.com/post/2019/08/18/3-reasons-why-you-should-have-bigger-rotors
  • 1 0
 @jeremy3220: I read that, it seems like he found “most” riders just have improper braking technique. So swapping the rotors would just be coddling bad form?
  • 1 0
 @iwantyourdemo: he found that even pros use the rear brake more often. He talks about this in one of his videos. Pro DH racers have already figured this out though and thats why they either run same size rotors or a larger rear rotor (Brosnan, Nicole).
  • 1 0
 @jeremy3220: interesting I’ll have to scope thanks
  • 6 0
 Dropper posts win golds.
  • 5 1
 Interesting she chooses the 10-52 cassette. I can't imagine she is ever in the 52.
  • 6 0
 I wouldn’t be shocked if it sees a little action, she seems to love a high cadence.
  • 11 0
 She frequently rides at 120+ RPM, and there are always super steep climbs on XCO courses, so she uses it a lot.
  • 2 3
 Most people treat the 52 as a "bail out" gear. It's likely not something you'll see athletes utilize unless they absolutely have to.
  • 6 1
 @seraph: Go watch some XCO World Cup races. They often have a camera running alongside the riders on steep climbs showing them in the low gear. These courses often have 20%+ climbs, so even top riders use low gears. If 32 x 52 is too low, she'll probably move to a bigger chainring.
  • 1 0
 "While many of her fellow cross country racers still eschew dropper posts, Neff started riding with one years ago and won't go back."

The vast majority of the women's field is on droppers. There are a few notable exceptions like Loana Lecomte, but it's pretty rare.
  • 2 0
 @alicialeggett

"...her slump of the past year"?

One person's 'slump' is another's 'recovery from being stabbed in the spleen'.

Language is important. You make it sounds like she was in inexplicably bad form.
  • 4 0
 Inserts in XC race wheels? What inserts are they using?
  • 3 0
 Awesome build for one of the best ever!
  • 3 0
 When do we get to see the huck to flat?
  • 17 0
 We kinda did during the race!
  • 2 0
 I thought any seat tube angle below 75 was inefficient for pedaling. Seems you can be not that bad with 70,5.
  • 2 0
 Let's have a look at the new gold bike.
  • 2 0
 what length of dropper does that look like --- 125mm??
  • 2 0
 100 mm more likely. I have 125 mm on my XC bike and that looks shorter.
  • 2 0
 Why does she have first aid sign on her top cap?
  • 4 0
 For when she brings the hurt to the competition.
  • 2 0
 Jolanta do boju!
  • 1 0
 Legendarny rower
  • 1 1
 Tape on downtube to stop mud sticking to frame, but what ever as fast enough to win, which is what is important!
  • 5 0
 I hope it doesn't catch on. We finally see people move away from polluting the trails with google tear-offs, don't fancy seeing this mess on the trails. Can't people just accept that if the trail is muddy you'll end up with mud on your bike? If you don't want that then just stay on the road.
  • 1 0
 690mm bars! Isn't that absolutely unrideable these days?
  • 1 0
 Pretty narrow bar, but she's a pretty narrow person.
  • 2 0
 Such a sick bike
  • 1 0
 Using a grip shift for the lock out is A++
  • 1 0
 169cm! Jolanda's a giant!
  • 1 0
 Great paint job! Congrats on the gold. Sorry bout your TREK, though
  • 1 0
 Steep head tube angle, I think it is a 69er
  • 1 0
 That damn tape really mucks up a beautiful paint job.
  • 1 0
 Doesn’t Look like a Session
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